"Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." - Elliott Erwitt
From a young age, Jim was fascinated with photography. He enjoyed capturing moments and creating permanent images or keepsakes from these moments in time. Over the years he perfected this craft and has left many of us with images and memories that will last a lifetime.
James Krug Siegrist was born in Kitchener, Ontario to parents Alfred and Lily (Krug) Siegrist on March 14, 1931. Lily had a difficult pregnancy and was forced to travel to the city to deliver Jim via a c-section. He weighed approximately 4 lbs at birth. The two soon returned to Chesley where Jim enjoyed his youth. The family welcomed his younger sister Nancy in 1936 and he soon began school. During his teenage years, he spent some time working weekends and summers at Krug's. However, after graduating from Chesley District High School Jim decided to pursue his passion for photography.
Jim attended Ryerson Tech in Toronto and obtained his degree in photography. In 1954, Jim officially began Siegrist Photography, running the business out of the back of his father's furniture store. It wasn't long before he added flowers to his speciality, as the two usually went hand-in-hand. In the early years, he did a lot of work for the Union Camp in Port Elgin but soon began taking confirmation, wedding and family photos to fill out his days. In time his professional images were used by local news outlets to complement their stories. By the mid to late 50's Jim moved the business to the Main St. where he continued to gain clientele.
In 1968, "The Jackrabbit" (as he was known as by his CB radio buddies) was introduced by a mutual friend, Les Barnard, to Karen Elaine Clark. Jim, although very interested, was patient in his approach as Karen had three young daughters at home. Over time, however, he won over Karen's affection and the two soon began dating. Jim was quick to treat Karen's daughters, Dawn, Michele and Risa, like his own and always referred to them as "my" or "our" kids. The couple were married in Owen Sound on October 2, 1976, at a private ceremony. It was so "private" the girls did not even know about it.
This same year, Karen and Jim finished constructing their new home on the banks of the Saugeen River in Chesley. They soon moved Siegrist Photography, Flowers & Gifts into the barn at home. Jim was always willing to adapt, and the arrival of the digital camera definitely forced his hand. However, he continued to make his mark in the industry and found and maintained his niche until he fully retired in 2007.
When not busy with work, Jim loved to fish and be out on the water. He enjoyed countless boats over the years and always treasured his time on Lake Huron, in Whiskey Harbour while at the cottage. When it came to fishing, he was not picky, as he loved to catch (and eat) a variety of fish, with white fish being his favourite. Jim also loved planes and anything to do with aviation. Although he never did obtain his pilot's license, he was a walking encyclopedia whenever it came to anything to do with flying. In his younger years, Jim enjoyed spinning Karen around the dance floor and spending time on his snowmobile. Other pastimes included woodworking, working with and creating stain glass, baking (especially his famous apple pies and homemade bread) and producing maple syrup.
Jim also loved his animals. In fact, he was particularly good at connecting with a variety of pets throughout his life. In his youth, he tamed a wild crow, making it his pet and even taught it to talk. Yes, you read that right.... a crow that talked!!! He also raised and nurtured pigeons, a pet goat and chickens, Big Joe & Little Joe. This was all in addition to a constant variety of cats and dogs that always called the Siegrist house home.
He was also a collector. In addition to a variety of gadgets, Jim also enjoyed collecting War movies, toys and clocks. He enjoyed his TV (with surround sound of course) often watching National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. Karen often joked that TV acted as a babysitter for her at times to keep Jim occupied. He embraced technology and was always trying to remain current with the newest and greatest products on the market. When it came to music it was usually classic country western, with a little "Big Band" and The Tenors thrown in. Take a guess at a couple of Jim's favourite dishes? ... If you answered beef tongue (apparently the tenderest part of a cow, his words, not mine!) and vanilla ice cream, then you knew Jim extremely well. One story was told whereby Jim was at an ice cream shop and he asked the server to recite the selection. She proceeded to give him over 50 options whereby he politely asked for vanilla when she was done. Can you imagine her reaction? :)
Jim was a gentle man who was always kind and considerate to others. He was a thoughtful, loving husband, father and grandfather, always enjoying his time with family. He had a good sense of humour and often displayed his child-like spirit when interacting with those he loved. Jim often said that we are never too old to have dreams and goals and he still had many aspirations that he wanted to pursue. Even though he considered himself a homebody, he would often perk up and display his famous smirk, when discussing others' experiences and adventures. In fact, he would always be the first to encourage you to "have fun" when heading out on your next adventure.
In 2011, Jim and Karen downsized and moved to 2nd Ave. S.E. Here they further enjoyed time with family and friends while enjoying retirement and slowing down. Sadly, Jim passed away after a brief illness, surrounded by his family at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Sunday, March 3, 2019, in his 88th year.
Beloved husband of Karen. Loving father of Dawn (Tim) Knisley, Michele (John) Peddle and Risa Walker (Bill Morgan). Jim will live on in the hearts and minds of his grandchildren, Christopher, Aaron, Marcia, Matthiew, Emily, Lisa, Matthew, Lauren, Amber, Katey and his five great-grandchildren. He will be dearly missed by his brother-in-law Tom Thomson, sisters-in-law Judy Fitter, Pat Fitter, and Betty Fitter McKessock as well as the entire Fitter family. Jim was predeceased by his sister Nancy Thomson, brothers-in-law Brian, Paul, David Fitter, sister-in-law Ruth Simpson and his parents Alfred and Lily (Krug) Siegrist.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Thursday from 6 – 8 p.m. and again on Friday, March 8, 2019, from 12 noon until the time of the funeral service at 1 p.m. Spring inurnment in Chesley Cemetery.
Memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation or Chesley Medical Clinic (cheques payable to Municipality of Arran Elderslie) would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend